Our New Girl
From: Friday, 13th January 2012
To: Saturday, 18 February 2012
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Sometimes we have to take care of things we’re frightened of...You can’t know if you’re up to the job until that thing in front of you lives or dies. Behind the shiny door of Hazel Robinson’s perfect London home nothing is as it seems. Hazel's plastic surgeon husband Richard has embarked on his latest charitable quest in Haiti, leaving the heavily-pregnant Hazel with a failing business and a problem son. When a professional nanny arrives unannounced on the Robinson’s doorstep, Hazel finds her home under the shadow of a perfect stranger with a dark agenda of her own.
Michael Coveney - 18 January 2012
Irish playwright Nancy Harris wrote the very good adaptation of Tolstoy’s The Kreutzer Sonata now playing at the Gate. Our first chance to see her own work, pure and unadulterated, as it were, provides an evening no less disturbing in its emotional undercurrents.
In a glistening North London kitchen - a wonderful design by Morgan Large in this exciting new theatre space just around the corner from the old Bush - a small boy, weirdly self-composed, appears to be about to cut off his own ear.
His heavily pregnant mother is storing boxes of Sicilian olive oil she hopes to sell on, but she’s drowning not waving. His father, a cosmetic surgeon with a serious Third World charity habit, has installed an Irish nanny to cover his tracks and help out.
No-one is happy with any of these arrangements, not least an audience, who dread another Van Gogh moment, domestic explosion, or politically incorrect accusation. Because of troubl...
Latest User Review
Gareth James - 30 January 2012:
This is very different to The Kitchen Sink, the last play at the Bush. It also has a kitchen sink – well, a whole kitchen – but that’s about where the similarities end. Whereas the previous ‘blue collar’ play was warm funny and feelgood this slice of middle class life is colder but just as thought-provoking and a little bit scary. Hazel hasn’t really worked out what parenting means but is now heavily pregnant with her second child. She’s quit her job as a hot-shot lawyer and has misguidedly set up a lifestyle business at home importing olive oil from Sicily. Husband Richard is a successful plastic surgeon whose mercy missions to the third world at first seem altruistic but ultimately prove to be somewhat more self-serving. Son Daniel is a little troubled, and in trouble for his inappropriate attentions to a fellow pupil. Young Annie turns up from Sligo, employed by Richard to help Hazel with childcare (though he didn’t tell her) and their lives turn upside down. We eventually realise that Annie has ‘chosen’ Richard, as he becomes besotted with her. Hazel is betrayed and Daniel is caught in the middle. Kate Fleetwood is simply terrific as Hazel. It’s a difficult emotional ride from former ice maiden through yummy mummy to woman scorned to epiphany when she ‘gets’ parenthood, but she does it brilliantly. Though pompous and vain Richard comes dangerously close to caricature, it’s a tribute to Mark Bazeley that in the second act much of the audience looked like they were about to march on the stage and give him a slap! Denise Gough’s brings out Annie’s complexity as she moves from naive young Irish girl to somewhat spooky predator. I think it was Jude Willoughby playing Daniel on the night I went and he was outstanding. It takes a while before you uncover the depths in Nancy Harris’ play, and in the second act the twists and dark humour are occasionally overplayed, but ultimately I found it very satisfying and I’ve been reflecting on the awesome challenge of modern parenting ever since. I didn’t leave the theatre with the warm glow I had after The Kitchen Sink, but I did leave feeling stimulated and entertained in equal measure....